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Is a sacrifice a sacrifice if it requires no sacrifice?
A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?
Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible.
And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts.
And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the Lord of hosts.
Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand.
For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts.
But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the Lord is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible.
Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the Lord.
But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen. (Malachi 1: 6-14 KJV)
So I repeat my question: “Is a sacrifice a sacrifice if it requires no sacrifice?”
Our great God deserves our sacrifice. We don’t offer animals any more because Jesus paid the ultimate price for sin, but we still offer sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to God in other ways. He deserves our sacrifices, whether they be in the form of prayer, singing, or doing things for others in His name.
But if what we are doing requires no real sacrifice (hardship) on our part, is it really a true sacrifice well-pleasing to God?
If I only take as much time to commune with God as conveniently fits into my schedule, am I offering a lame sheep?
If I consent to babysit for a lady in my church but tell her that I really can’t afford to watch the child for longer than three hours because I really have blog work I need to do, am I offering a sick goat?
If I take a loaf of bread to my widowed neighbor lady but neatly bow out of staying to chat, am I offering a blind lamb?
I think it’s interesting that all three of the scenarios I came up with involve time. Yes, time is something I really struggle to offer to God without reservation. I have my to-do list here, and whatever time is left I will gladly give. But is that really a worthy sacrifice? Are my charitable efforts really a sacrifice if they don’t involve personal sacrifice – personal hardship and a denial of self?
Is it possible for something good to really not be very good at all?
I think so. Ouch. I’m really stepping on my own toes with this one. This week I challenge you: skip “convenient” and look for something to offer to God as a thank-you sacrifice that really involves sacrifice.